Home > Heat Wave(3)

Heat Wave(3)
Author: Karina Halle

And I didn’t know what to say to that. He was staring at me with those dark eyes, a look so intense yet sparkling with charm and something…wicked.

I’d never find out how wicked they could be.

“Ronnie!” A melodic, ultra-feminine voice sliced through the moment like an unwieldy machete, causing me to flinch, my fingers tightening around the stem of the glass.

Oh no, I thought. Not now.

Logan’s head swiveled toward the sound of the voice, like a hound picking up a scent. I didn’t bother looking over, I kept my focus on him, watching his expression intently. It changed, as I knew it would.

She had walked into the room.

He saw her.

And like it was for so many men, that look of lust I had thought was for me, was now for her.

That’s when I knew it was over. Whatever thing I had felt for him, it didn’t matter anymore, not when she was in the room. Nothing ever mattered as long as she was around.

I might have saw him first.

But he was all hers after that.

CHAPTER ONE

Seven Years Later

“Miss, are you done with that?”

I can feel the man in the seat next to mine subtly elbowing me until I turn my head and glance up at the flight attendant. She’s nodding at the nearly finished glass of Mai Tai on my tray table, the very reason why my response time is epically slow.

“Uh, almost,” I tell her with a smile that I hope looks sober and pick up the thin plastic cup so she won’t snatch it away.

Not that it really matters—I’ve had four syrupy cocktails in the last six hours. From the moment I boarded the Alaska Airlines flight heading out of Seattle for Lihue, I’ve been drinking my nerves away. It doesn’t help that the Mai Tais on this flight have been free the last two hours, even for us poor people in coach. It seems the airline wants everyone to get excited about the impending paradise, and drinks are on the house.

I finish the rest of the cocktail while she patiently waits, the sticky sweetness of rum and fruit-juice puckering my tongue, and hand her the empty glass. I immediately bring my attention back to the window, not wanting to miss a thing.

We’ve already passed over Maui as we started our descent, a brilliant color show of red and green, ochre and sienna, and now we’re over the ocean between the islands, the water a shimmering aqua that seems so alive and hypnotic I can barely tear my eyes away.

I can’t believe I’m doing this.

Those words won’t stop ringing in my head. They started when I began packing a week ago and haven’t stopped since. I’ve always been so organized, so planned, so careful with my life, and now I’m heading to Hawaii of all places based on nothing more than a promise and hope for the future.

I never thought my future would have me way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on one of the most isolated places in the world. Beyond the eight islands lies 1,860 miles of empty ocean before the nearest continent. To know I’ll be staying here is a sobering, terrifying thought.

Yes, I know, it’s not the typical outlook of someone going to Hawaii on a job prospect. I should be as happy and excited as the rest of the passengers on the plane, chatting and laughing merrily through their Mai Tai buzz, flipping through the in-flight magazine and pointing out the different places to go. But while they’re most likely going on vacation, I’m going there to live.

And once again…

I can’t believe I’m doing this.

In an ideal world, I would have found a job right away after my last one. As the chef de partie at one of Chicago’s biggest Italian chains, Picolo, I thought finding another job would be easy, even in such a highly competitive business. But it didn’t matter that I’d worked at the place steadily since I got out of culinary school, starting as a line cook and working my way up. The pickings were slim, (for a reason I might add) and without a job I couldn’t afford my apartment, which meant moving back home with my parents for one-hellish month. Sure, they live in a multi-million-dollar house in Lincoln Park, but if you knew my parents at all you’d understand why I had to get the hell out of there.

And get out of there I did. I’m pretty sure my parents felt the same way about me because it was them, my mother specifically, who told me about the cook position at Moonwater Inn. Of course, it meant leaving my friends and life behind and moving to the island of Kauai, but even so it was an opportunity I couldn’t afford to pass up.

At least, I keep telling myself that. In reality, I don’t have a choice in the matter.

It’s not long before the plane gets lower and lower and then the wings dip slightly to the left and the blue blue ocean comes crashing against dramatic green cliffs, the island of Kauai, my future home, rising dramatically from the depths.

A thrill runs through me, the kind that tickles your heart, makes your stomach dance. My hands grip the arm rest as the plane goes through some mild bumps.

“Afraid of flying?” the man beside me asks. He’s in his late fifties, a round face, skin that’s so tanned it’s almost red, and wearing a rumpled white shirt. He hasn’t said two words to me the entire flight.

“Afraid of crashing,” I tell him and turn my attention back to the window just in time to see the runway rushing up beneath us, red dirt bordering the asphalt. But instead of feeling relief as the wheels make contact with the ground and the plane does its overdramatic braking, another wave of nerves goes through me.

This is it.

If this doesn’t work out, there’s no way off this island except for a six-hour flight over open water. If this doesn’t work out, I’m back at square one with my tail between my legs. If this doesn’t work out, I’m once again a disappointment in the Locke family.

   
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